YouTube music video classics: The Weeknd
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
During his childhood in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough, Abel Tesfaye would make mixtapes about the struggles in his life and performing in singing competitions to get his work out. After being found on the music scene in the early 2010s and the release of his 2015 breakthrough album Beauty Behind the Madness, he would become one of the biggest musicians in Canada and worldwide—known commonly as The Weeknd.
I remember the first time I watched Tesfaye performing as one of the headliners in the inaugural edition of FVDED In The Park in Surrey where he said positive things about Vancouver. During the encore, he even held a bra that was thrown on the stage while he was performing the Academy Award nominated theme song of Fifty Shades of Grey “Earned It.” His vocals are reminiscent of Michael Jackson and his songs tackle the dangers of the streets late at night, substance abuse, and in his recent Juno winning album After Hours he discusses the “bandages of Hollywood.” Each of his albums have a cinematic universe in the music videos and I will be explaining most of them by album (which you can find on YouTube).
Beauty Behind the Madness has my favourite song by the musician “Can’t Feel My Face.” In the music video he performs in a club unnoticed. After a woman smokes a cigarette and throws her lighter towards him, he is set on fire, and everyone starts dancing. (I thought that being on fire was what the song was about, but he was talking about his face being numb after using cocaine.) The same woman can be seen in the music videos of “The Hills” and “Tell Your Friends” where we find out that Tesfaye works for a mob boss and later shoots her in the middle of the desert.
He follows up with 2016’s Starboy produced by the recently disbanded electronic group Daft Punk and described as an epic science-fiction film. In the music video of the title song, Tesfaye gets murdered by an alter ego named Starboy and rides along with a black panther in a stolen car. The vibe of the music video of the song is like, “I got my awards, what’s next?” You see Starboy’s world in the music video of “Party Monster” which is similar to the music video of “In the Night” both directed by BRTHR and looked like a B-List 1980s action film.
He would later perish in the music video of “I Feel It Coming” and would later be found by Daft Punk. After that, the low key My Dear Melancholy was released in 2018 which only had a music video for its main single “Call Out My Name.” In the video we see Tesfaye going through a windstorm and encountering unusual creatures and statues along the way.
His masterpiece After Hours is like his take on Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas where he plays a lucky guy being high while getting chased by mobs later to find out that he gets possessed and becomes a creepy murderer. His backstory is explained in “Heartless” and the music video of the popular song of last year “Blinding Lights.” Tesfaye getting beat up at the end of the video might be the reason why his face is swollen in the music video of “Save Your Tears.” The music video of “Snowchild” summarizes his troubling life so far in the form of an anime. Everyone knows his struggle and Tesfaye has more stories to tell from his madness.